Two-Year Experiment in Internet Distribution Grants Wide Authority to Local Committees

AFM Internet Agreement Ratified

Volume C, No. 7/8July, 2000

By an overwhelming vote – 1,681 to 101 – musicians in symphony, opera and ballet orchestras across the country have ratified terms and conditions for the distribution of live and pre-recorded audio-only music product on the internet.

This new agreement – which runs from Feb. 1, 2000, to Jan. 31, 2002, and is intended as a two-year experiment – will permit streaming and downloading of product owned and/or controlled by symphony, opera and ballet companies, but will exclude any recordings produced under the Phonograph Record Labor Agreement or the Limited Pressing Agreement. The new agreement supplements, but does not replace, existing AFM agreements.

While ceding broad authority to local committees of musicians and managers on matters of compensation (both up-front payments, if any, and revenue-sharing), content, marketing and licensing of material, the parties stipulated that the following minimum conditions must be met:

  • Only audio archive and broadcast material from rehearsals and concerts may be used.
  • Musicians will receive a 10 percent pension contribution to the AFM-EPF on all income earned.
  • There must be a minimum up-front payment to each participating musician of 6 percent of weekly scale (or 48 percent of per-service scale) if any of the following three components are missing.
  1. The musicians must be entitled to revenue participation payments.
  2. The product must be licensed for less than seven years.
  3. The control of (i.e., the right to exploit) the product must be retained by the employer at the end of the license period.
  • No disciplinary action may be taken by management against musicians on the basis of product produced under this agreement.
  • No product produced under this agreement may be used to replace musicians in performance.
  • Electronic Media Guarantees may be credited only against up-front payments that are not advances against future shared revenue.


The process that led to this agreement grew out of a gradual realization over the past several years, on the part of both managements and musicians, that the recording industry is no longer interested in this field; that the internet, especially at this time, may offer a unique opportunity; and that it is in everyone’s best interest that these institutions and musicians retain as much control over this product as possible. Discussion of these points occurred frequently throughout the negotiations, and ultimately served as a set of guiding principles, according to many participants in the process.

AFM representatives in the negotiations included President Steve Young; Robert Levine, ICSOM Chair; Laura Ross, ROPA Secretary; Brad Buckley, ICSOM Media Committee Chair; Florence Nelson, AFM Symphonic Services Director; Deborah Newmark, SSD Electronic Media Administrator; Jay Blumenthal, NYC Ballet; Pat Doughtery, Long Island Philharmonic; Bill Foster, National Symphony; Fiona Simon, NY Philharmonic; Ira Weller, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; and Local 802 President Bill Moriarity.

Management representatives included executive directors, presidents and representatives from the San Francisco Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Washington Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Central City Opera, the NYC Ballet, the Nashville Symphony, the Pittsburgh Opera, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera.